Saturday, 31 October 2015

Corbyn quotes John Maclean who wouldn't touch Scotish Labour with a barge pole.

 Jeremy Corbyn speech to "Scottish" Labour yesterday was an interesting one but as an attempt to put Labour in Scotland (a more apt title I think) it was futile one

  It can be summed up as he tried to claim for Labour in Scotland the mantle of a Scottish Socialist Icon John Maclean

Across the UK we now have over 380,000 members and, here in Scotland, the number of members and supporters has more than doubled to over 30,000.
And having our numbers bolstered also gives us the opportunity to remind people of our historic and current purpose to look after and transform the lives of all our people, not just those at the top.
As that great Scottish socialist and poet John Maclean said:
“I am a socialist, and have been fighting and will fight for an absolute reconstruction of society for the benefit of all.”

Mr Corbyn failed to mention  one aspect of John Maclean and that was his uncompromising commitment to Scottish Independence
In 1910 Maclean  formed The Scottish Workers Republican Party (SWRP) . It advocated the political doctrine of communism, whilst also supporting Scottish independence. This dual communist-nationalist doctrine was heavily influenced by the thinking of James Connolly who similarly believed in socialism and independence for Ireland and had set up his Irish Socialist Republican Party in 1896.

MacLean argued that the break-up of the British state and empire would aid the cause of world-wide socialism and thus he supported the idea of an independent Scotland. This inherent nationalism alienated the SWRP from the mainstream British left though. The SWRP carried on its political activity for some time after the death of MacLean in 1923 but never made any real impact politically.

Maclean may have recongnised a common cause with Corbyn himself but would  not see any allies in the rest of the Conference Hall.

 In her biography of her father John Mclean Nan Milton wrote of the election of the Red Clydesiders in the General Election of 1922 and refers to the leader the ILP’s 10 Cydesiders ,James Maxton addressing Glasgow City hall before departing for Westminster.

People talk about the atmosphere of the House of Commons getting the better of the Labour men. They will se the atmosphere of the Clyde getting the better of the House of Commons. All the Labour members are personal friends. We are not leaving Glasgow as so many individuals but as a team working towards a goal-and that is the abolition of poverty.

Eighteen months later in the same hall. Maxton has a very different tale to tell. In unambiguous terms he illustrates the inevitable loss of vitality and growing frustration of the group when separated from their popular roots #, and confounded by the arrogance and contempt pf English MPs who regarded them as parochial bumpkins. Maxton clearly anticipated the danger to political integrity….such surroundings would breed, and his solution was short and unequivocal one. The Clydesiders must return to the Clyde and take up the challenge of creating a Socialist Commonwealth in Scotland.

I doubt Jeremy Corbyn as he looked around the conference hall saw anything like the Red Clydesiders desperate to take up that mantle even if they did not recognise that it would be  futil.

But certainly there was no future John Maclean in the Hall.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Quebec shows Wales and Indeed Scotland what can be achived with real powers.

In a speech in Cardiff on Yesterday , Welsh Secretary  Stephen Crabb warned:

 "There's a real danger in Wales that our full economic potential is being hamstrung by a never ending constitutional debate focused on a theoretical discussion about powers which is entirely divorced from the practical importance of what these powers can actually achieve."
He said  he had a nightmare

  "a nightmare" of "an ongoing, inward-looking debate about Welsh powers and the constitution, where we still prop up the bottom of the economic league tables within the United Kingdom and where we are still discussing the need for that damn M4 upgrade."
 Maybe Mr Crabb should consider the news that 

The provincial government in Quebec is to invest $1bn US dollars (£655m) in Bombardier's troubled CSeries jet.
The narrow-bodied passenger plane's development has placed a major strain on Bombardier's finances.
Bombardier is based in Canada, but it is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturing employer.
The Quebec government will hold a 49.5% stake in a limited partnership set up to complete the CSeries programme. 

 Its headquarters are in Montreal, Quebec, Canada but  although the move safeguards jobs in Quebec it appears that the Quebec governments  move will also be of benefit to the Northern Ireland economy.

The Quebec government can do this because it has the resources and powers to do so,

As far back as 1944 the Quebec government  established   Hydro-Québec 

On Friday, December 28, 1962 at 6 pm,  under the leadership of the then Liberal Minister
René Lévesque,  (Who later went on to found Parti Qubecois)  Hydro-Québec launched an hostile takeover, offering to buy all of the stock in 11 companies at a set price, slightly above market value. After hedging their bets for a few weeks, management of the firms advised their shareholders to accept the C$604 million government offer.[32] In addition to buying the 11 companies, most electric co-operatives and municipally owned utilities were also taken over and merged with the existing Hydro-Québec operations, which became the largest electric company in Quebec on May 1, 1963.

Financing of the purchase was achieved through borrowing. In early 1963, Quebec placed $300 million dollars in 25-year bonds with 40 American financial institutions. The scale of the amounts transferred following the bond issue had an impact on the Canadian markets, leading the Bank of Canada to adjust the discount rate.

Yes this happened over 50 years Quebec had more powers than Scotland let alone Wales has even now

Since then Hydro Quebec has been the Jewel in the Crown not only of Quebec's economy  but in its identity

What Stephen Crabb wants is a devolved government  which has little powers to change the Welsh economy but is only there to distribute Westminster grants through the Barnett formula.

Any real economic moves must come through Westminster policies.

Mr Crabb assertion that we re trying to have  a theoretical discussion about powers which is entirely divorced from the practical importance of what these powers can actually achieve." may hold some water because of Carwyn Jones Labour Assembly Government in Wales  whose approach to the concept of Parity with Scotland" is as nonexistent as Mr Crabbs  but if Wales continues   with  a devolution settlement which denies a Welsh Government  the powers to change the Welsh Government will end up with the people of Wales wondering why have devolution at all?

But then that may be exactly what Mr Crab and the Tories and some Labour MPs want.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Labour activist use Union position to attack Plaid Broadcast.

To be honest I wasn't that impressed with Plaid latest Party Political  Broadcast as I prefer positive rather than negative campaigning

If you haven't see it  set in a run-down workingmen’s club with a sign reading “The Labour Party” on the front door. but here it is.

But nevertheless we can only  wonder why the Wasting Mule Online gave space to a report that

A trade union which represents thousands of health workers says it is “livid” at Plaid Cymru for their “ill-informed” party political broadcast.

Apparently Unison Cymru Wales has urged Leanne Wood to apologise to NHS staff for the “gross offence” caused by the broadcast, which aired last week on television.

In a letter to Leanne Wood, Mrs Bowden states:

 “Ambulance workers across Wales are livid that Plaid Cymru decided to dismiss their professionalism and public service ethos in such a crass and ill-informed way in last week’s party political broadcast.
“You and your party owe it to Unison healthcare workers to apologise for the gross offence caused.
“To have a drunk, 70s style comedian in your broadcast pedalling a lame “Knock, knock” joke that ambulances take a blanket 50 minutes to arrive, has no basis in fact and rubbishes the hard work of our members.

In your attempts to talk down the Wales NHS in your game of hurly-burly with the Welsh Government, you are hurting public sector workers who give everything to their community. “The median response time for an ambulance in August this year – the latest month for which figures are available – was six minutes 45 seconds; the mean response time, nine minutes; a startling difference from the figure in your ‘joke’.”

Now I have expressed disquiet about the  state of the Welsh NHS  being used as a political football without some real alternatives being made but criticising the Welsh Governments handling of it is not the same as criticising NHS staff.

In response, trade union representative and Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate , Cerith Griffiths said the film made a “very important point” about the Labour Welsh government’s underinvestment in the ambulance service and how they fail to take this problem seriously
 Not only is the film not critical of NHS staff – it explicits refers to the excellence of health professionals.
“Ambulance staff tell Plaid Cymru they are under more and more pressure and want our help to call for action from this Labour Government.
“Plaid Cymru has repeated time and time again that it is on the side of the Welsh ambulance workforce and the NHS staff.
“Those I speak to on a regular basis tell me they are having to cope with increased pressures and over-stretched resources.
“That is why Plaid Cymru has listened to NHS workers and pledged to invest more money in our health service and to recruit more staff.
Mr Grifiths then hit the nail on the head 
““When active Labour members use a trade union platform to attack Plaid Cymru, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but what’s important is that Plaid Cymru will always work closely with unions and their members to seek fair play for our public services.”

For  Mrs Bowden is just that an  Labour Party member, and was on the shortlist to be the party’s candidate for next year’s Assembly elections in Caerphilly.

You can be forgiven that "We are Livid"  claim that Mrs Bowden made refers more to the Labour party in Wales than her Unison members.

It is disgraceful for the Labour Party to us a Union to divert attacks on their mismanagement .

At one time NUPE which preceded Unison looked like it was a progressive Union that was wiling to work with other parties rater than Labour .

It no seems that the current Union is more intent on defending the Labour Party and not its member particularly it seems  those who are suffering because the only Labour run legislature in the UK has spectacularly failed them.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Lords need abolishing. Certainly not "reformed" to suit the Tories.

The Tories reaction to Monday high defeat in the Lords over Tax Credits  reminds me of a fans reaction to a Football or Rugby fan seeing one of their clubs favourite players signing for their local rivals.

All of the qualities that the player has is forgotten and any error in tier game substituted as well as cries of disloyalty .

The scene of Tory MPs in the Commons and Television,and Radio interviews pitting Unelected before the word Lords was risible it seems that they have only just discovered this after over 200 years.

The argument over whether the Unelected Lords (as the Tories now call it is debatable.

It appears that the Tories claim that this was a money bill which the Laws should not oppose seems false 

as Peter Black points out (even Peter's right sometimes.

  Under the Parliament Act a money bill has to be certified as such by the Speaker of the House of Commons. Osborne's tax credit cuts were in a statutory instrument and not certified as such. The Lords were totally entitled to do what they did.

Nor is the  claim that it was in the Tories Manifesto if it was it was hidden away in a package of  £12billion of mystery cutsand not outlined.

Though there was a pledge to

Stop tax credits for families with incomes over £50,000, cut government contributions to Child Trust Funds for all but the poorest third of families and families with disabled children
The current proposal appear to affect people on much lower incomes.

The Tories reaction  has been mocked 

But the prospect of Cameron reforming the the Unelected Undemocratic Lords to suit them when they have a majority in the Commons is worrying .

That does not mean that we should be supporting the Lords . It should be abolished and replaced with an elected Federal Chamber or at least one based on Proportional  Representation.

What should not happen is it being reformed by the Government of the Day Left or Right especial y one that was elected with the support of only 24% of eligible voters to  suit them rather than the democratic will of the people of these Islands.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Plaid grow cold on coalition with Labour.

 I thought at first that the leader of Plaid Cymru in Cardiff Niel Mcevoy saying that  he wants ed his party to rule out being a minority partner in a Labour-led Assembly Government after May’s election was going against the mainstream views of the Plaid Leadership 

But it seems Plaid seem to have gone cold on the prospect of going into Coalition with Labour

Adam Price  who Plaid members are praying that he wins an assembly seat next May said:

 “My own view, and this is just a personal view because is the party is concentrating on winning the election, is that I don’t see there being any circumstance where the members and supporters of my party would be prepared to see a simple repeat of 2007 ( When Plaid joined a minority Labour government in coalition in Cardiff Bay ].
“We want to lead a government and unless you have the First Minister’s post, you cannot set the direction of travel.

“I certainly have no appetite for five more years of rule under this First Minister. There’s a lack of vision and a lack of ambition, so we have to have change.

  “I would be prepared to accept a situation where Labour was a junior partner to us if that’s what the arithmetic dictated. An equal partner, maybe, where we shared the First Minister’s position on a rotation principle, but that for me personally would be the minimum.
“Anything less than having a change of First Minister at some point in the next five years is not going to deliver the change that Wales needs.”
If anyone thinks we’re going to cuddle up the Labour party again – we tried that in 2007 and we got a Parliament out of it, so it was worth doing, but it’s not going to deliver the sort of change Wales needs.

“I am not frightened of saying that, and if it ruffles a few feathers I don’t care, because we have got to make clear to people that what Plaid Cymru is about in this election is winning, taking over the leadership of the Welsh Government, having Leanne Wood as First Minister so we can set a different direction.”

and Plaid Leader Leanne Wood also indicated in a interview with the Morning Star  that any appertite she had for such a coalition had diminished.

Meic Birtwhistle: Your statements about the Labour Party seemed pretty strident on Saturday. Was that a new attitude your adopting towards the Welsh Labour government?

Leanne Wood: I think that after 17 years of Labour running Wales — all be that there have been coalitions in that time — the outcomes in policy terms being as they are with a stagnating economy, with people in Wales having to wait longer for basic diagnostic tests, or being unable to access treatment or medicines for their diseases in comparison with people in England, then people deserve to be able to consider that record.
So do we want to carry on in that vein? I hope that people will come to the conclusion that they want a change in terms of health and education and the economy in particular.
And Plaid Cymru is offering that alternative government. The problem that we have in Wales, of course, is that many people are of the impression that the health service is run by the Tories in London. And so we have a job of work to do as well informing people where specific areas of responsibility lie. And so my narrative in my speech yesterday was around that.

Meic Birtwhistle: Mark Serwotka called for a red-green coalition to oppose the Westminster austerity measures. Do you feel that some of your attacks on the administration are going to threaten that possibility?
Leanne Wood: We need to draw the line between Westminster and Wales. We can work together in Westminster on things such as Trident replacement and on issues like cuts.
I said in the general election that we would be prepared to work with Labour in opposing and defeating the Tories — and that still stands.
But in Wales the Labour Party has been in office for a long time and they are not a progressive organisation.
They’ve defended some of the more regressive policies [of the Tories].
The First Minister of Wales, for example, has not only welcomed Trident replacement but also called for Trident to be located in Wales. We can’t work with that.
I suspect the majority of Plaid members many of who see Labour as the main enemy in Wales will be cheering this.

It does not mean it will not happen if Labour do badly and are well short of 31 seats needed to be a majority but are still the largest party  then Carwyn may well resign and  Plaid could then claim that there a new leader who they could "deal with". However looking at the potential replacement for Carwyn among the ranks of the current AMs its hard to see anyone who with the sought of progressive ideas Plaid may want to include in any deal.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Putting the names of candidates on the Regional List for Assembly elections.

The Liberal Democrats are proposing that when voters go to the polls in May for the Assembly elections, the names of the candidates and not just the parties should be printed on the regional list ballot papers.

Ceredigion MP Mark William s, the deputy leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“Regional AMs of all parties work hard for the people that they represent, and build up personal name recognition in their own right among communities in their area. Not putting candidate names on the regional ballot papers, as was the case in 2011, weakens the link between the electors and the elected, makes our democracy more distant and faceless, and decreases transparency.“That’s surely something that no-one can support.”

Pressing Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb to make a decision, he said: 

“Reinstating candidate names on regional ballot papers is something that’s supported by many organisations... The decision has been with the Secretary of State for many months, and all those involved need a decision as soon as possible in order to make arrangements for the upcoming Assembly elections.
“I do hope he will support our calls.”
You can  clearly see why the LibDems want this to happen as its likely that if they are to even keep their current number of AM they are going to have to rely on the Top Up system of the Regional list and hopefully for them the and the recognition factor of their top candidates.

 Labour who in a good year in the constituencies  could find it not having any Regional AMs via the "Top Up"  claims it could lead to “confusion” if the names of candidates standing on the regional lists – used to elected 20 of the 60 Assembly Members – are printed arguing that .

 We do not believe that the current format of regional ballot papers should be changed. The inclusion of candidates’ names on regional ballots where parties stand up to 12 candidates will lead to confusion and practical difficulties for both voters and counting staff.
“Experience has shown that when candidate names were included (prior to 2011) that many voters placed multiple cross on the ballot paper, attempted to vote for individual candidates and undoubtedly led to some votes not being deemed valid and counted. There are also serious concerns about the size of the font needed to fit potentially 12 names for each party standing regional candidates.

Seeing that  it is impossible for any Party to get 4 AMs elected to a region and probably 2 is the maximum. Then having only the top 4 on each party list on the ballot paper for each region could be a compromise.

Of course in 2015 you could introduce  electronic voting  and a system where you are presented with a screen for your "Top up Preference"  Indicate a party and are then taken to another screen where the candidates of that party are listed and number them 1,2,3.... according to your own preference.

This would make Regional AM reliant on the public vote and not Party preference it might make them work just a little bit harder.

But that would be even more impossible to carry out than putting four names on the Ballot paper,wouldn't it?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Welsh NHS to be main Battleground in May.

This years Assembly election is likely to see the NHS easily become the main campaign issue

Both Plaid and the Tories have already indicated this and  no doubt the other Opposition Parties will follow suit.

Plaid may have an advantage over the Tories in that they can point to the mess of the NHS over the border even using quotes from one oft the Tories Welsh MPs Glyn Davies . 

Plaids made the NHS one of the main focuses of their conference, and yesterday renewed their attacks on the Assembly Government over its record on the NHS.

The party’s health spokeswoman, Elin Jones , also unveiled a package of six key pledges which she promised to implement should Plaid form the administration following next May’s election.

Ceredigion AM Ms Jones outlined a six-point plan for the NHS included vows to:
  • Cut waiting times for diagnosis and treatment;
  • Improve access to mental health;
  • Create a paperless NHS;
  • Tackle the public health threats of today;
  • Train a next generation of NHS workers;
  • Fully integrate health and social care and deliver equal care for equal need.
She reaffirmed pledges unveiled by party leader Leanne Wood on Friday, including the promise to pay for 1,000 extra doctors in the next decade and three new Welsh diagnostic centres as well as a vow to keep maternity services in North Wales open.

Ms Jones also confirmed Plaid’s support for what she termed a “pop tax” on sugary drinks  a measure first raised by Leanne Wood that was first derided by many commentators but now has many prominent  backers by Public Health England.

She underlined Plaid’s commitment to scrap Wales’ health boards and create one national hospital board – and promised to create “a modern, paperless NHS”, which would include doctors’ clinics via Skype.
“It can’t be right that I can book a hotel room in Buenos Aires on my smart phone from this stage in Aberystwyth right now, but I can’t use my smartphone to book an appointment or repeat prescription from my surgery just down the road,”
Actually this is already happening  in my Doctors surgery it needs improving and needs to be spread throughout Wales but in theory i can do that now.

During her speech Ms Jones insisted Plaid’s plans were “fully costed” and would provide “equal care for equal need”.

But Labour has accused Plaid of being in chaos over their health spending plans, saying they had been unable to explain how they would pay for their proposals.

Maybe they are right  but I suspect unless Labour intend to fight May election on the the Status Quo they are going to have to come up with imaginative Ideas for the Welsh NHS and   come up with their own “fully costed”manifesto.

The other Parties will follow suit and Parties that have no chance of winning could come up with totally impossible expenditure plans.

Whatever it is likely we will have to see the  NHS be the main area of combat for Assembly  Election after Assembly Election no matter who wins.

I can only ask is this god Welsh Democracy and is it not time we started it on moving Welsh Devolution forward.

The danger of constantly fighting on the NHS could well see Welsh devolution into reverse as Westminster claims we can't handle it.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

CEO of Seven Trent timing is either ignorant or insensitive

The CEO of Seven Trent Olivia 'Liv' Garfield, has announcement that a major plans to protect the water supply to Birmingham and Solihull with the construction of a second pipe to complement the historic Elan Valley Aqueduct.In the Week that remember the drowning of another Valley Tryweryn look particualy insensitive.

In ap iece entitled 

Severn Trent CEO outlines £100 million plans to protect Birmingham's water supply 

Ms Garfield said...

I’m not sure all the people in Birmingham know about their water supply. They’ve got the most beautiful water that comes right the way down from Wales along this gravity-fed, beautifully built piece of Victorian legacy architecture – the Elan Valley Aqueduct (EVA).

“It has been bringing water to Birmingham for 100 years. It has served our customers well, but our regular checks are showing it’s time for some modernisation and refurbishment.

“To allow us to do more substantive maintenance we need to supply water to Birmingham from another source, so we’re planning to build an extra pipeline to take water from a new place on the River Severn.
“This will give us a back-up supply of water to Birmingham during the refurbishment work on the EVA and in the future in case of emergency.
If Wales had control over its own resources Ms Garfield would be saying that she would be seeking Welsh Assembly approval for this .

The water authority controls the following public sector statutory water undertakers:[

Yes in a country with a devolved Assembly Montgomeryshire  comes under the control of an English Body. 

and this means  Ms Garfield seems confidence she and Severn Trent can do what they like with the beautiful water  .and not pay Wales a penny for it.

What other Nation tolerates such an abuse?

If Plaid are going to come up with new commitments in their conference this weekend Bringing all Water supply likee the former  Montgomeryshire Water Board under the control of the Welsh Assembly and that we receive payment for our natural resources  should surely be on the agenda for next years Assembly Manifesto.


Friday, 23 October 2015

EVEL won't and cannot work

 The SNP have provided  a useful guide  to how English Votes for English Laws

Currently a bill goes through the following stages in the House of Commons:
First Reading -> Second Reading -> Committee stage -> Report Stage -> Third Stage

This will significantly change if EVEL is introduced.(my comments are in Black

⇨ Stage one
When a bill is introduced in the Commons, the Speaker will be required to ‘certify’ whether the bill, or parts of it, relates exclusively to England, or England and Wales.

What about Northern Ireland? I have not seen any mention of this at all
⇨ Stage two
The Bill will go through its Second Reading and Committee Stage as normal.

 Therefore Scottish and Welsh (and NI MPs?) will be expected to serve on committees for Bills they will eventually have no say on. Though as below shows this will change '

⇨ Stage three
If the Speaker has decided a bill relates only to England it will go through a special, additional Committee Stage. A legislative Grand Committee will be set up, where only English MPs will consider the Bill. The membership of this committee will reflect the electoral makeup of England.
If the Speaker has decided a bill relates only to England and Wales, the legislative Grand Committee will be made up of English and Welsh MPs.
This stage allows English or English and Welsh MPs to debate legislation, and either consent to it or veto it, with no involvement from Scottish MPs – regardless of any knock on effects the legislation may have on Scotland.

Shouldn't this happen at Stage two? 

What if there is a Labour Prime Minister but  the Tories have a Majority of English MPs? Will this mean that the Tory leader is De facto First Minister of England ? even if He/She is not Prime Minister. Will it eventually lead to alternative Cabinet of English MPs who will propose English only Bills?

⇨ Stage four
The Bill will go through its fourth stage before progressing to the House of Lords.

 Clearly if there is significant reform of the second Chamber this would have to change further muddying the issue.

⇨ Post House of Lords stage
The legislative process in the House of Lords is unchanged. However any amendments made in the House of Lords which relate exclusively to England, or England and Wales, will be subject to a double majority vote.
This means that these amendments will have to be supported by a majority of English, or English and Welsh MPs, as well as a majority of all MPs, before they become law.

Will Welsh Scottish (and NI MPs) have an opportunity to challenge this or at any other stages stage. Will we see Bil after Bill be taken to the supreme Court for a ruling. Placing the power solely at the Speakers  discretion would sureky lead to legal challenges. 

Finance Bills will also go through this new procedure.

This is an true Dogs Breakfast  and though I sympathies with English MPs the only real solution is either to have a separate English Parliament or significant Devolution within England .

Evel seems to have received the Tacit support of LibDem  AM  Peter Black you  could well come to the conclusion that if Peter has no real problem with it . It is really flawed.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Can the British "Left" realise Wales needs more powers.

The Wasting Mule appears  to be entering "Reds Under the Bed" phase with a report that "Welsh Labour’s draft manifesto for next year’s National Assembly election ignores Jeremy Corbyn’s politics, according to a radical group that says the document lacks “even a moderate socialist vision”.

Although Martin Shipton for the Mule points out that Left Unity, which was formed in 2013 following a call for a new left-wing party by veteran film director Ken Loach, is separate party from Labour it appears at time the Spectre of Millitant as a Trotskyist entryist group in the British Labour Party.

However its worth looking at because the nature of the   critique of Labour's draft manifesto saying that  that it fails to address the impact of spending and welfare cuts.
The critique says: 

“Estimates ... show that from the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, together with planned cuts up to 2018, Wales will have lost nearly £3bn in funding or 17% in real terms. In addition, by 2018 people in Wales will also have lost around £1.5bn in welfare cuts.”
The group, which strongly welcomed the election of Mr Corbyn, derides Carwyn Jones’ assertion in the draft manifesto’s foreword that “with five more years of Tory Government intent on further cuts and limiting public services, we will need to be more inventive, more agile and more innovative in how we deliver”.

“This is a totally weak, inadequate, and frankly insulting response to the destruction that these cuts will bring to the people and public services in Wales.
“With this level of opposition from Labour in Wales, it is little wonder that the Tories and Ukip do so well in elections. The people of Wales deserve better from the Labour Party in Wales.”
“There is a complete lack of even a moderate socialist vision. In part due to the acceptance of the Tory cuts regime and in part due to a lack of commitment to the radical change needed to deal with the problems facing people and the planet, the proposed policy priorities are narrow and almost unintelligible.”

The Mule goes on to say Left Unity says Welsh Labour should be proposing ways that finance could be raised in Wales, in addition to directly challenge the cuts.
It says the challenge of climate change should be taken seriously, and that policies should be aimed at ensuring people’s needs are met “in terms of work, health, housing, lifelong learning, eradicating poverty and sustaining welfare”.

The critique adds: 

“A socialist manifesto for Wales should include a commitment to immediately act on specific matters such as stopping the effect of the bedroom tax in Wales. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party is a historical game changer.
“It has put the need to oppose capitalism and argue for a socialist agenda back on the table.
 I find myself somewhat in agreement  with the Critique but struggled to find any indication that Left Unity want a substantial increase in the Assembly powers.

I could be wrong it is difficult to imagine how the Assembly can  stop the effects of the bedroom tax in wales without the real powers that we need.

I hope I'm wrong and would welcome clarification from Left Unity over this.

All to often there have been a tendency of Left Wing groups to oppose not only any idea of Welsh Independence but Wales having parity with Scotland or to claim the latter is aside issue and "not relevant in the struggle for true socialism".

A critique of Welsh Labour's weak and ineffective government is welcome but is meaningless unless its also met with Wales getting the powers to carry out the reforms that Left Unity and others cal for.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Plaid in deal with Labour iover council mergers.

It seems yesterdays agreement between  Plaid Cymru  and Labour allowing a bill that would help voluntary council mergers take place to become law seems to one of accepting the principle of this rather than any indication that it is going to happen.

 Plaid say this has stopped Labour from working on local government mergers before May's polls, but the Liberal Democrats scorned the deal saying it achieved literally nothing.

But a letter from Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones to Plaid leader Leanne Wood said the Welsh Government accepted that the Assembly elections in May “will provide the necessary mandate for the next Welsh Government to proceed with local government reform.”

But that would have happened anyway . Though it would be interesting to see all the Parties commitments to Council mergers. in their Manifestos given that all seem to accept that this is necessary..
Mr Jones told Ms Wood: 

“This bill when enacted will give that government the tools to begin work immediately on the model and footprints for such reform as voted for by the electorate.
“It is conceivable that such reform under a new Welsh Government may include alternative delivery models and electoral arrangements than currently envisaged.”

Which  might just point to Labour accepting STV for council elections in any coalition deal with Labour.

 Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:

“Plaid Cymru has stopped Labour from enforcing their map for local government reorganisation through the back door before plans are put to people. Large scale changes to Local Government structures should not be decided by politicians with no mandate but should be decided by people in an election.
“The demands made by Plaid Cymru will mean that all parties can present their individual proposals in their manifestos and seek a mandate to implement them, without being bound by the current government’s preferences.
“It will allow a Plaid Cymru government to implement the changes that we want to see to the structure of Local Government, by retaining the existing 22 Local Authorities making them work together as combined regional authorities.
“Plaid Cymru has also ensured that we will have the ability to introduce proportional representation for local councils to allow for fairer voting systems like STV.
“The Party of Wales has acted in the best interests of the people of Wales, giving them the say on how they want their local councils to be elected and structured in future and halting the centralisation plans of Labour. We now seek a mandate for our proposals for localism and empowering Wales’ communities in the election to the National Assembly next May.”
Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat local government spokesman, said: 

“This is humiliating stuff... Plaid have sold out, but received absolutely nothing in return.
“Their embarrassing U-turn is based on smoke and mirrors. They have achieved literally nothing. There is no commitment for a fair voting system and it was always the case that mergers were not going to happen before the Assembly election.”
Which is  a fair point but one comment by Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Local Government, Janet Finch-Saunders, maybe explains why Plaid acted as they did
“Barely 72 hours after criticising Labour, Plaid’s leader has happily cosied up and done a deal with them.
“We should have expected nothing less than this astonishing hypocrisy.
”The Local Government Bill would help put in place some of the mechanisms to facilitate voluntary council mergers – but not the measures needed for a whole-scale compulsory merger."
So does this mean the Tories would have supported compulsory mergers well apparently no earlier Ms Finch-Saunders had called for local  referendums to approve such mergers saying

“The Welsh Conservatives steadfastly oppose Labour’s forced mergers and will continue to stand up for our proud communities the length and breadth of Wales.

“As we’ve said all along, where Councils can work together, share services and save money they have the backing and support of Welsh Conservatives – but only with the consent of local people.

“Our plans would put power back in to local hands, ensuring any merger is put to residents via a referendum.

“We have long opposed Labour’s marker-pen assault on our communities. Instead of taking people with him the Minister has ploughed ahead with his unpopular plans, risking great upheaval, less localised services and an attempt to banish many of Wales’ proudest communities from the map altogether.”
So Plaid have prevented compulsory mergers which  Ms Finch-Saunders seems to oppose.

If we are going to have local  referendums who will pay for it ? It looks like a god idea but the Tories need to spell out how they will work and at what cost.

I suspect Plaid have acted to prevent the other opposition Parties doing their own deals including the idea of compulsory mergers .

 Given that the law past the final stage four hurdle in the Senedd on Tuesday, with 26 AMs voting for, 17 against and nine abstaining.

I am not sure if this was a good deal by Plaid or whether it was necessary but I wonder what backdoor deal may be have been done by the LibDems say if hadn't been made.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Devo Dipynbach can even go in to reverse .

We can only wonder how many Tories in Wales agree with Monmouth MP David Davies described by the BBC as  " a senior Welsh Tory"  that  Wales is edging closer to independence,  amid plans for further devolution.

New powers over energy, transport and running the assembly will be outlined in a draft Wales Bill on Tuesday.

Before any pro Independence  supporters start cheering   Mr  Davies also said he was worried that devolution "is always a one-way street".

"No-one is talking about taking powers away from the Welsh government in areas where it is performing badly, such as health or education,".
The draft bill will outline a "reserved powers" model which lists all the policy areas where Westminster remains responsible, with the rest assumed to be devolved.

It could well be that this Bill has more to do with English Votes for English Laws (Evel) rather than strengthen Welsh Laws as it might make it easier to exclude Welsh MPs from Westminster voted deemed exclusively of an English nature.

 as John Dixon over at Borthlas put it 

....when the proponents of the bill talk about giving the Assembly power to change its name as one of the main changes, it simply makes me deeply sceptical about whether the changes are worth the effort".

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has denied claims that the bill could weaken the assembly, and rejected calls by First Minister Carwyn Jones to delay publication for further cross-party talks.

Under this Devo Dipynbach the people of Wales are hardly going to be galvanised  next May and Mr Davies can sleep in his bed safe in the knowledge that Independence is remote at this time.

Indeed another 4 years of Carwyn's Labour and Tory propaganda as health or education,".could lead to people thinking maybe we should lose these powers and hand them back to Westminster where they can really screw things up, but are more experienced in convincing us everything is getting better.

Plaid, the LibDems and the Greens will probably be the only Parties calling for significant more powers.

If the Polls are right however.Then we are going to see a rise in Parties who either want to nothing or like David Davies reverse the devolution settlement '

We could end up with a renamed "Welsh Parliament" that has fewer powers than one of devolved City regions the Tories are pushing in England.

Monday, 19 October 2015

25% can imagine a coup. Small wonder.

It is rather disturbing that a YouGov poll appears to show that one in four members of the British public (25%) can imagine a situation, however unlikely, where they would support the British Armed Forces taking over the powers of government. Men (28%) are more able to conceive of this than women (23%), but the most surprising figures come from UKIP voters. Fully 44% of those who voted UKIP in 2015 could imagine supporting a coup, more than those who could not (40%).
48% of UKIP voters even say members of the British armed forces should not follow orders from their civilian superiors when they feel those orders are misguided (27% say they should).

 It is important to note that the second set of Table is that of the 25% who can imagine a coup. So for instance even among those who said they could imagine a coup there was only a majority for those who thought it might happen  if the army was abolished


Maybe we should not be surprised since Blairs interventionist  Policy in the Middle East there has been a campaign to get the UK public to support our military this involves the Military being on display during Welsh International Rugby Matches fort instance. and culminated in the formation of Armed Forces Day (formerly Veterans' Day)  an annual event celebrated in late June to commemorate the service of men and women in the British Armed Forces. Veterans' Day was first observed in 2006. Although an official event, it is not a public holiday in the UK. The name was changed to Armed Forces Day in 2009. Armed Forces Day has so far been observed on the last Saturday of June.
Small wonder then that the Public have responded positively to the Armed Forces as the graph opposite shows.

It could well be claimed that we have to much promotion of the Armed Forces for our own good . There is a thin line between pointing out the sacrifice of our Men and Women in conflicts and using this to justify the Interventionist policies of our Politicians.

It is not disloyal to those who have died or been inured in conflicts to criticise their involvement . Nor is it to question if we need the expenditure on defence or indeed if this really for defence or aggression

We need to be always vigilant and expresses our concerns . I believe senior Military leaders and Arms manufactures have an interest in the current interventionism of the UK.

It is not they and the Politicians who pay for such folly in death, horrible injuries and mental problems but the ordinary front line soldiers. It is ironic that for the latter it is those would rather they weren't there and question the size and expenditure on our Armed Forces  are their real friends.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

"Welsh" Labour are digging out their CND badges. Good.

I'm not sure how I feel about the new that an organisation  called Welsh Labour Grassroots and Labour CND launched a “Stop Trident” campaign in Wales .

At the event, which was also attended by Cardiff North AM Julie Morgan and Welsh Government health minister and Cardiff West AM Professor Mark Drakeford.

On one hand its encouraging to see support for "Stop Trident" from senior  Labour figures.

But I remember  meetings and Rallies in the 80's where we would listen to Senior Labour figuers who extol the virtue of  Unilateral Disarmament only to almost completely disappear even before Blair's leadership.

Clearly it is OK for Labour MPs and AMs  to wear dig out their CND Cymru  from the bottom draw and pin them on again

yesterdays event  coincided with an event in London on Saturday morning at which Labour’s newly appointed leader Jeremy Corbyn was appointed Vice President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Llanelli MP Ms Griffith said that with Mr Corbyn opposed to the renewal of the nuclear weapons system, there was now a chance to bring together those who oppose Trident.

She said,
“Up and down the country, we are now hearing, even in some military circles, that people are questioning whether the enormous expenditure on Trident really provides value for money or offers the protection we need when the threats are very different from 60 years ago.
“You cannot combat horrific terrorist groups, living amongst innocent civilians, with a nuclear missile.

“I think there is a real opportunity now to bring together those who oppose Trident on economic or practical grounds with those who oppose Trident for deep-rooted moral and humanitarian reasons.
“With the resounding victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Leadership contest, we now have the opportunity for one of the major UK political parties to be at the forefront of a genuine re-think on Trident.”

We can wonder  how this will go down with the leader of Welsh Labour (or is he?) Carwyn Jones who back in June 2012 claimed the the UK’s nuclear deterrent would be “more than welcome” in Wales if the Scottish Government wanted rid of it,.

The First Minister told the Senedd that if the SNP wanted to remove the fleet of nuclear submarines from Faslane on the west coast of Scotland it – and the jobs which went with it – would be welcomed in Milford Haven.
Mr Jones had been asked during First Minister’s Questions about the potential to invest in Welsh ports.

He responded:

 “I did notice the Scottish Government no longer wishes to have the nuclear submarine base at Faslane, it no longer wishes to house the UK naval nuclear fleet. There will be more than a welcome for that fleet and those jobs in Milford Haven.”
All in all I welcome the reemergence of senior Welsh Labour figuers I only hope they realise that this is about wider things than Internal party feuding or ambitions and work with others in Wales  like Plaid and the Greens .

If they are prepared to do so then we can really make progress in not only stopping Trident  but for disarmament of these "Weapons of Mas Destruction" as a whole.